CHAPTER 351

FORMERLY

SENATE BILL NO. 593

AS AMENDED BY

SENATE AMENDMENT NOS. 1, 2, SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1 TO

SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 2, AND 3

AN ACT TO AMEND DELAWARE CODE, TITLE 14, AS IT RELATES TO THE ORGANIZATION, GOVERNANCE AND FINANCING OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE:

Section 1. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, 51001 by designating the single paragraph of that section as (a) and adding to the section a new subsection (b) as follows:

"(b) It is the further purpose and intent of the General Assembly to establish policy, procedures, standards and criteria under which the State Board of Education is authorized to determine and establish an appropriate reorganized school district or school districts and to implement the reorganization thereof. Any Plan or Rules and Regulations duly adopted in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter and subsection (k) of 51028 of this title by the State Board of Education for its implementation of such a plan shall be binding upon the parties involved in accordance with 5122 (a) of this Title."

Section 2. Amend Delaware Code, Title 24, 51028 by adding to that section a new paragraph (k) as follows:

"(k) During the period January 1, 1980 through August 31, 1981 the State Board of Education may divide any school district created by order of a federal court, pursuant to this 51028, provided, however, that:

(1) The requirement of referendum included in subsection (b) of this section, the requirement of taxation of subsection (e) and the statutory restriction of subsection (j) shall not be applicable.

(2) The requirements of subsection (d) of this section shall be met by funds available pursuant to subsection (b) of §1057 of this title and by taxes collected by the county taxing authorities, which taxes shall be collected uniformly throughout the entire area being divided.

(3) The area being divided shall be permanently constituted as a school tax district as defined in §1925 of this title.

(4) The rates for school taxes for current operating expenses and debt service on obligations evidenced by (I) bonds of the district being divided authorized prior to the division (H) bonds of the district being divided and (Hi) bonds of any former school district located in the geographical area of the district being divided which are levied in the school tax district shall be established and set according to the provisions of 51925 of this title.

(5) Obligations evidenced by bonds authorized prior to the division herein authorized shall be paid by the county taxing authorities from debt service taxes collected in the school tax district.

(6) Taxes collected in the school tax district for current operating expenses shall be distributed each year in a uniform manner, on a per unit basis according to units certified by the State Board of Education for the previous fiscal year, by the county taxing authorities, to the districts formed by the division.

(1) No tax funds herein authorized shall be distributed to a separate vocational-technical school district.

(1) Nothing herein or in §1925 of this title shall prevent any school district created as a result of such a division from levying and collecting taxes for any purpose within the new district when such rates are set according to the provisions of this title, chapter 19 requiring a referendum of the qualified voters in the district.

(1) Nothing herein or in §1925 of this title shall prevent any school district created as a result of such division from issuing bonds and levying and collecting taxes to provide funds for the payment of interest and annual payments on such bonds, in accordance with chapter 21 of this title.

(1) Any school district created as a result of such division may each fiscal year determine and set tax rates for tuition and for minor capital improvements for the next fiscal year.

(1) A change in tax rates by a single district shall not alter the rate set in accordance with §1925 of this title for the school tax district.

(1) At the time of the division of a school district according to the provisions of this subsection, the State Board of Education shall include at least the following in the description of the boundaries of the newly created district or districts:

(i) The boundaries of the district or districts shall be described by any combination of terms Including reference to former component school districts of the district being divided, geographic or man made boundaries such as streams, railways, highways and streets, or census tracts or modified grids of census tracts as described by the United States Census Bureau.

(II) Boundaries of subsections within the school district or school districts shall also be described and these subsections shall hereafter be known as nominating districts. A nominating district shall be described in terms similar to those authorized for the definition of boundaries of a school district. Each school district shall be divided into seven nominating districts. At the time of its creation each nominating district shall encompass an area in which approximately 15% of the total population of the school district (s resident. The data base for the determination of population in residence shall be census data from the United States Census of 1970. The approximation of 15% may vary in a range from ten per cent to twenty per cent of the population of the school district.

(1) The boards of education of school districts resulting from the division authorized by this subsection shall be established in accordance with §1066 of this title."

Section 3. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14 by adding a new §1925, as follows: "51925. School Tax Districts.

(a) If the State Board of Education divides a school district pursuant to the authority of subsection (k) of §1028 of this title, the geographical area encompassed by the district being divided shall be established as a school tax district for the collection of taxes at a uniform rate throughout the school tax district, said taxes to be distributed according to the provisions of S1028(k) of this title. Such a school tax district shall serve no other function nor shall any staff or governing board be established for such a district.

(b) The tax rate for current operating expenses shall be the rate of taxes levied for current operating expenses in the district being divided in the fiscal year in which the State Board of Education adopts the plan dividing the district.

(c) The tax rate for the meeting of bond obligations shall be set by the taxing authorities of the county wherein the school tax district is located after consultation with the Treasurer of the State of Delaware and levied throughout the school tax district in order to meet the obligations of subsection (k) of §1028 and §2121 of this title.

(d) The official of the county wherein the school tax district is located who is authorized to collect school taxes pursuant to 51917 of this Title shall annually set the tax rate, in compliance with subsections (b) and (c) of this section, for taxes to be collected in the following year.

(e) This section shall supersede 51924 of this title upon the effective date of the division pursuant to 51028(k) of this title."

Section 4. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, by deleting 51002 and inserting in lieu thereof a new §1002 as follows:

"§1002. Definitions

Unless otherwise defined In this chapter:

(1) 'School district' means a clearly defined geographic subdivision of the State organized for the purpose of administering public education in that area provided that 'school district' shall not, for the purposes of this subchapter and subsection (k) of 51028 of this title, include any district specifically created to administer a system of vocational and/or technical education.

(2) 'Reorganized school district' or 'newly reorganized school district' means a school district which is constituted and established in accordance with this chapter, provided that 'reorganized school district' or 'newly reorganized school district', for the purposes of this subchapter and subsection (k) of 51028 of this title, shall not include any district specifically created to administer a system of vocational and/or technical education.

(3) 'School board' means the board of education of a reorganized school district consisting of members duly elected or appointed in accordance with this chapter.

(4) 'Component former school district' or 'component school district' means a school district, as constituted on July 1, 1977, which comprises In whole or In part a reorganized school district on or after July 1, 1978.

(5) 'Component former school board' means the board of education of any component former school district or component school district."

Section 5. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, by deleting 51004 thereof and inserting in lieu thereof a new 51004 as follows:

"§1004. Establishment of Reorganized School Districts) on a Designated Date.

Whenever any school district is reorganized either by consolidation of whole or parts of whole districts into a new district or districts or by division of a district or by a combination of consolidation and division of districts, the State Board of Education shall set the date upon which the implementation of the reorganized district or districts shall occur, after which date the reorganized district or districts shall be organized and administered according to the provisions of this title and the school board of the former school district shall be dissolved."

Section 8. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, by deleting 51005 and inserting in lieu thereof a new §1005 as follows:

"§1005. Employee's Right to Pair Dismissal.

Nothing in this chapter shall be deemed to alter or affect in any way either chapter 14 of this title or the right to terminate the employment of any school employee to whom chapter 14 of this title does not apply, for cause or for any other reasons not inconsistent with the purpose of this section, except that, for purposes of 51403 of this title, a teacher as defined in 51401 of this title who is and has been continuously employed among a district created by a division under subsection (k) of 51028 of this title, the district divided under subsection (lc) of this title and one of its component former school districts shall be deemed to have been continuously employed by the new district to which he or she has been assigned for the entire term of his or her continuous employment in the several school districts."

Section 7. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, by deleting §1006 and inserting in lieu thereof a new §1006 as follows:

"§1006. Deployment of School Employees in Each Reorganized School District

(a) The State Board of Education shall devise a fair and equitable procedure for the deployment of school employees among and within the districts reorganized pursuant to this subchapter and subsection (k) of §1028 of this title which will be consistent with the criteria for reorganization set out in §1003 of this title.

(b) Any school district which is eligible for division pursuant to section (k) of §1028 of this title shall include in every employment contract into which it enters after the effective date of this Act a statement providing that the contract shall not be binding on any district created by such division."

Section 8. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, §1007, §1008, §1009, §1010, §1011 and §1012 by deleting each of those sections in their entirety.

Section 9. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, by inserting a new §1007 as follows:

"§1007. Derment of New Board(s) As Interim Board(s)' Authority, Membership, Vacancies, Funding And Planning Prior To The Organization Of Interim Board(s).

(a) When a reorganized school district, excluding a vocational-technical school district, is divided pursuant to the provisions of this subchapter and subsection (k) of 5IO28 of this title, there shall be an interim board of education for each district being created. The interim board of education shall have seven members, one of whom resides in each nominating district. Each member of the board of education of the district being divided shall become a member of the interim board of the district being created and from the nominating district in which he or she resides, provided that his or her term on the interim board shall terminate on the date on which his or her term on the board of education of the district being divided terminates. Any person who succeeds a member of the board of the district being divided shall also succeed that person as a member of the interim board. Except with regard to persons appointed to fill vacancies, the remainder of the members of the interim board of education shall be chosen by election pursuant to the following procedure:

(1) Candidates for the interim board of education shall be nominated in accordance with the provisions of 51075 of this title except that a nominee must be a resident of the nominating district he or she will represent.

(2) A nominating petition in support of any nominee may be signed by any resident of the school district qualified to vote in the election proposed.

(3) Election of members of the interim board shall be at large in the geographic area encompassed by the school district being created, provided that no person may vote for more than one person who resides in each nominating district.

(4) The election shall be conducted in accordance with §§1071-1085 of this title, provided, however, that:

(a) The election shall be held within one hundred thirty (130) days of the approval by the State Board of Education of the plan for division of the district pursuant to subsection (k) of 51028 of this title on a date chosen by the Department of Elections of the county in which the district is located after consultation with the State Board of Education or its designee, provided, however, that It shall not be held in November or December.

(b) The election shall be conducted by the Department of Elections of the county in which the district is located. The cost of the election shall be borne by the school district being divided.

(c) In the ease of a tie between nominees from the same nominating district, the member shall be chosen by a run-off election to be held within thirty (30) days.

(b) Not later than ten (10) calendar days after the election of the members of an interim board, the president of the State Board of Education or the president's designee shall meet the new board and swear in the members and shall on the same occasion instruct the board immediately to organize according to the provisions of this chapter.

(e) Each new board so organized shall serve as an interim board of education for the reorganized district until the date set by the State Board of Education for the establishment of the new school district according to §1004 of this title.

(a) Each interim board shall have all of the authority of a board of education as set forth in this title for the sole purpose of planning and preparing for the establishment of a reorganized school district to be established on the date set by the State Board of Education. The authority herein granted to each interim board may include but is not limited to the authority to set tax rates in accordance with this title, negotiate contracts, employ personnel for assignment as of the date of implementation of the new district and select a name for the reorganized school district.

(a) The interim board may employ personnel for immediate assignment to execute the policies of the interim board.

(a) All persons elected to the interim board or appointed to fill a vacancy shall be members of the interim board until it is dissolved on the date selected by the State Board of Education pursuant to section 1004 of this title for implementation of the reorganization. A vacancy on the interim board shall be filled by the remaining members of the interim board who shall appoint a person who resides in the nominating district in which his or her predecessor resided.

(a) Each interim board shall devise a budget to support its operation during the period from the date of its organization until the date set by the State Board of Education for implementation of the new district and present that budget to the State Board of Education for review and approval on a date set by the State Board of Education which shall be not more than thirty (30) calendar days after the date that the interim board is organized. The State Board of Education shall approve or make modifications in and approve the budget not later than ten (10) days after it is presented by the interim board.

(a) If the district being divided or consolidated fails to contribute to the interim board the amount assessed against it, according to this section, within ten (10) calendar days of receipt of the statement of assessment delivered by certified mail, the interim board shall report the delinquency to the State Board of Education, which shall in turn verify the delinquency and certify its finding to the Secretary of Finance. Upon certification of the Secretary of Finance, the State Treasurer shall pay the assessed amount to the interim board from such funds as are available in the state and local district accounts for the delinquent district.

(i) Prior to the organization of the interim board, the State Board of Education shall engage in planning to effectuate the division of the school district. The board of education of the school district being divided shall, at the request of the State Board of Education, assign personnel to assist the State Board of Education.

(j) Nothing herein shall alter the procedure or timing of elections for membership on the board of education of the district being divided."

Section 10. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, by inserting a new §1009 as follows: "§1009. Transfer of Real Property

During the period beginning on the date that an interim board is organized pursuant to §1007 of this title and ending on the date set by the State Board of Education for the establishment of a new district, any school district being divided shall take the steps necessary to transfer and convey all property that, as determined by the State Board of Education, naturally belongs to the reorganized district and shall make and execute such deed or deeds of conveyance as are necessary to pass to the reorganized district the legal title to all such property, provided that the State Board of Education shall make no determination contrary to subsection (f) of 51028 of this title. For purposes of this section, the property upon which a vocational technical center or school is located and the property constituting such vocational technical center or school shall be deemed to belong to the vocational technical school board in the county in. which the vocational technical center or school is located. The transfers herein required shall be concluded not later than ninety (90) calendar days after the establishment of the new reorganized school district."

Section 11. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, §1066 by adding to that section a new subsection (e) as follows:

"(e) Other provisions of this section notwithstanding, if during the period January 1, 1980 through August 31, 1981, the State Board of Education divides a school district that was created by the order of a federal court, the number of board members, the members of the board, the length of the term of each member and the provisions for election of members to those boards shall be as follows:

(I) The number of members for any such board shall be seven.

(2) The term of office for a member of any such board shall be five years except that the initial terms will expire in accordance with this subsection.

(1) Each person who was elected directly to the interim board of education and each person who became a member of the interim board of education by reason of his or her election to the board of education of the district being divided shall be a member of the board of education of the newly created district from the nominating district in which he or she resides. The remaining members shall be chosen by an election conducted under the procedure of this section and sections 1071-1085 of this title, provided, however, that the election shall be conducted by the Department of Elections of the county in which the district is located on a date chosen by the Department of Elections after consultation with the Interim board of the school district being created and further provided that in the ease of a tie between nominees from the same nominating district, the member shall be chosen by a run-oft election to be held within thirty (30) days. The cost of such election shall be borne by the school district being divided.

(1) The terms of the members of the board of education shall be determined in accordance with the following:

(i) One term shall end in 1986, two terms shall end in 1985, one term shall end in 1984, two terms shall end in 1983 and one term shall end in 1982. All terms shall end on June 30.

(ii) The term of each person who is a member of the board of education by reason of his or her election to the board of education of the district being divided shall end on the date his or her term on the board of education of the district being divided would have ended.

(iii) The person or persons elected directly to the board of education shall have the longest of the remaining terms. If two or more persons are elected directly to the board of education of the district being created the length of their terms shall be determined by comparing their vote totals. The person who received the highest total shall have the longest remaining term. The person who received the next highest vote shall have the next longest remaining term, and so forth. Where a nominee has been elected in a run-off election, the length of his or her term shall be determined by the vote total received in the election which resulted in a tie. If two or more nominees from different nominating districts are elected with the same number of votes, the ranking to set length of term shall be determined by the State Board of Education, by lot.

(iv) The persons who are members of the board of education of the district being created by reason of their election to the interim board of education of the district being created shall have whichever terms are not filled in accordance with subparagraphs OD and (iii) of this paragraph. The length of their terms shall be determined by comparing their vote totals. The person who received the highest total shall have the longest remaining term. The person who received the next highest vote total shall have the next longest remaining term, and so forth. Where a nominee has been elected in a run-off election, the length of his or her term shall be determined by the vote total received in the election which resulted in a tie. if two or more nominees from different nominating districts are elected with the same number of votes, the ranking to set length of term shall be determined by the State Board of Education, by lot.

(5) At the time that members are to be elected directly to a board of education for a district created pursuant to subsection (k) of §1028 of this title the nominees shall be nominated according to the provisions of 51075 of this title except that a nominee must be a resident of the nominating district in which his or her predecessor resides.

(6) A nominating petition in support of any nominee may be signed by any resident of the school district qualified to vote in the election proposed.

(7) Election of members of a board of education shall be at large in the school district, provided that no person may vote for more than one person who resides in each nominating district.

(8) Any vacancy on a board of education shall be filled according to the provisions of §1054 of this title."

Section 12. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, §1028 by adding to that section a new paragraph (1) to read as follows:

"(I) If the division of a school district is carried out under the provisions of paragraph (k) of this section, then the following provsions shall apply:

(1) Any outstanding obligations of the school district for current operating expenses, on the effective date of the division, shall become the joint obligation of the newly created districts. Each new district shall be responsible for a portion of the total outstanding obligation; the liability of each new district shall be in the same proportion to the total liability of the district being divided as the number of units of pupils enrolled in schools located in the area encompassed by the new district was to the total number of units in the district being divided in the fiscal year preceding the division.

(2) Balances in the local current expense account of the school district, on the effective date of the division, shall be divided among the newly created districts. The amount of funds received by each such district shall be in the same proportion to the total balance as the number of units of pupils enrolled in schools located in the area encompassed by the new district was to the total number of units in the district being divided in the fiscal year preceding the division.

(3) Balances in the local tuition account of the school district, on the effective date of the division, shall be divided among the newly created districts. The amount of funds received by each such district shall be in the same proportion to the total balance as the number of units of pupils enrolled in the schools located in the area encompassed in the new district was to the total number of units in the district being divided in the fiscal year preceding the division.

(4) Balances in the local debt service account of the reorganized school district, on the effective date of the division, shall be retained in the debt service account of the school tax district. These funds shall be used to meet bond obligations which are due after the effective date of the division.

(5) Balances in the local minor capital improvement accounts of the district being divided, on the effective date of the division, shall be divided among the newly created districts. The funds shall be divided in a proportion which will best enable the funds to be used for the projects for which they were intended at the time of the division, as determined by the State Board of Education.

(6) Balances in the annual maintenance accounts of the reorganized district, on the effective date of the division, shall be divided among the newly created districts. The funds shall be divided in a proportion which will best enable the funds to be used for the maintenance for which they were intended at the time of the division, as determined by the State Board of Education."

Section 13. Amend Delaware Code, Title 14, by deleting §1057 and inserting in lieu thereof a new §1057 as follows:

"§1057. Sale Of Property And Disposition Of Proceeds

(a) When any property, real or personal, of any reorganized school district is no longer needed for school purposes by such district, the school board thereof may, subject to written approval by the Director of State Planning and the State Board of Education, sell such property at a price not less than fair market value as certified by the Secretary of the Department of Administrative Services, and transfer or convey to the purchaser thereof a good and sufficient title thereto, or lease such property. The Director of State Planning shall not give written approval until he has determined, in his sole discretion, whether any state agency has a significant interest in purchasing the property and has afforded an opportunity to purchase the property to every state agency which be has found to have a significant interest in purchasing the property. The proceeds of such sale or sales shall be deposited to the account of the reorganized school district and shall be used by the school board for school purposes if there had been no financial participation by the State in the original cost of purchase or construction and any additions or alterations thereto; otherwise, the proceeds of the sale or sales shall be returned to the State in the same proportion as the share of the State in the original cost of purchase or construction and any additions or alterations thereof.

(b) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in subsection (a) of this section, any rental income in excess of the cost of operation received from thc rental of, or sales income received from the sale of, any building owned by a reorganized school district created pursuant to subsection (k) of 51028 of this title and constructed prior to the creation of such district shall be used at the earliest feasible date for payments on bonds issued or authorized prior to the effective date of the division under subsection (k) of 51028 for funding 0:instruction, additions or alterations of buildings located in the area encompam y sum reorgan zed school district, if such bonds are outstanding at the time the funds are received."

Section 14. In the event any Order of the United States District Court for the District of Delaware requiring or necessitating dissolution of the school districts or former school districts subject to such order is reversed on appeal so that the eleven districts involved in Evans v. Buchanan are legally authorized to regain their separate identities and status, any reorganization plan adopted or implemented pursuant to this Act shall be null and void; provided, however, that if the reversal of such order occurs during the school year as defined in 51023 of Chapter 10 of this title, any reorganization shall remain in effect until the end of such fiscal year.

Section 15. This Act shall be construed so as not to impair the rights of any bondholder, and all bonds outstanding shall remain in full force and effect according to the terms thereof.

Section 16. If any provision of this Act is held invalid, the other provisions of this Act shall not be affected thereby. If the application of this Act or any of its provisions to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the application of this Act and its provisions to other persons or circumstances shall not be effected thereby.

Section 17. Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed as repealing any section of Delaware law except as specifically provided in this Act.

Section 18. This Act shall be known as the "School District Reorganization Act."

Section 19. The provisions of this Act shall be effective upon enactment except as specified in the Act.

Approved July 8, 1980